Born in 1942, John Mordecai Gottman studied at Lubavitch Yeshiva Elementary in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised as a practicing Orthodox Jew. He is widely known for his work in family and relationship therapy and analysis and marital stability. He is a Professor Emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington and heads The Relationship Research Institute and the Gottman Institute with his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman.
Gottman is well known for his study predicting the likelihood of divorce in newleyweds. He based his predictions on a technique involving the examination of micro-expressions, human behavior, and emotion derived from theories developed by Paul Ekman. Gottman claims his technique is highly accurate and also states he can determine the likelihood of divorce in marriages that have been intact for nearly a decade. Although these accuracies have been highly debated, the Gottman Institute maintains that the studies conducted were accurately predictive.
Contribution to Psychology
Gottman’s theory was explored in Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell. In it Gladwell discusses the four emotional factors that Gottman believes can be counterproductive to a healthy marriage: criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness. Gottman’s own book, The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work, identifies the behaviors that he has seen in years of studying successful marriages, and those behaviors that can be destructive to a healthy marriage. He discusses in depth the actions a couple can take to ensure a strong and enduring emotionally healthy marriage. The seven principles that he outlines are:
Gottman has published numerous works on marital stability and is the recipient of multiple awards from several of the most recognized and prestigious psychological organizations. His work continues to influence the direction of relationship therapy and impacts thousands of couples each year.
Dr. Gottman Featured on GoodTherapy.org
In May, 2010 John Gottman presented The Science of Trust, a GoodTherapy.org Web Conference available to clinicians for CE credits.